President Stevo Pendarovski of North Macedonia has signed the final accession document for the small Balkan country’s entry into NATO.
Pendarovski signed the instrument of accession on March 20 that will shortly make the country the 30th member of the Western military alliance.
The president was able to sign the document after Spain on March 17 became the last alliance member to ratify the membership of the former Yugoslav republic.
The Spanish parliament was forced to vote remotely on the membership because of fears of holding a session amid the coronavirus crisis.
Following the Spanish parliament’s vote, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter that “with that, all allies have welcomed our soon-to-be 30th member. Congratulations, North Macedonia!”
North Macedonia was granted a protocol on accession to NATO membership in February 2019, after a 2018 agreement with Greece that changed the former Yugoslav republic’s name from Macedonia, resolving a decades-long dispute between Skopje and Athens.
The United States and European allies have backed Skopje’s efforts to join the alliance as part of efforts to slow moves by Russia and China to increase their influence in the Balkans.